Nazis Take Over Africa

Ever wonder where George Lucas got the inspiration for Indiana Jones? Look no further than pulp serials from the 1940s like Jungle Queen. The action-adventure serial by Universal exemplifies the best and worst elements of the genre. Cheaply made as a distraction for American audiences living through World War II, serials were hugely popular. Think of the disposable productions as the superhero films of their day, made for the masses.

With no delusions of being high art, Jungle Queen lives to deliver a sordid tale of Nazis, African tribes and spy games colliding in thrilling action. Brimming with evil Nazi leaders and buxom heroines, Jungle Queen exists in a morally black-and-white world with few shades of gray.

Set in 1939, a young British woman played by Lois Collier goes to Africa looking for her missing father. Along the way a pair of American agents will challenge the Nazis looking to control Africa. The local Tonghili tribes, fearsome natives replete with spears and a messy coalition, are central to Jungle Queen’s bizarre war strategy. Fearing the Nazis will win the coming war if they get the Tonghili on their side, the British allies must stop their takeover of Africa.

Jungle Queen is an enjoyable serial is worth checking out for fans of vintage cinema

The titular Jungle Queen is Lothel, smoothly played by Ruth Roman. The mysterious beauty happens to be the Tonghili tribes’ guiding force, a woman of veneration and adoration. Culturally troublesome today, it’s a bit strange seeing African natives worship a white woman as their icon and spiritual leader. Jungle Queen definitely hasn’t been approved for Netflix.

Over thirteen chapters running about twenty minutes apiece, the cheaply made African adventure is repetitive but fun on a primitive, check-your-brain-at-the-door level. Some of Jungle Queen’s cultural relevance has faded over the decades and a few references will sail over most modern audiences. Its basic tale of evil Nazis running amok in Africa, as the British and Americans attempt to stop them, still entertains more than it should. The lead stars, especially female leads like Lois Collier and Ruth Roman, make for classic heroines from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Sure, Jungle Queen is hokey with a few ridiculous elements. Delivering a good dose of pulp thrills in the savage jungle, the enjoyable serial is worth checking out for fans of vintage cinema.

Video

Distributed by MVD Visual for VCI, Jungle Queen sees a new 2K film scan from 35mm nitrate film elements. Given their checkered history, VCI does a fine job with the Universal serial’s black-and-white cinematography. The 1080P video, presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, reveals fairly consistent film elements with varying amounts of wear. Picture quality varies. The opening chapter looks great with proper black levels and decent texture.

Some video processing has been used on the transfer but leaves enough intact grain for a mostly authentic cinematic experience. Interior scenes fare better than some of the supposed scenes set in the wilds of Africa. Overall, Jungle Queen’s new film transfer provides satisfying video quality in real high definition. There is palpable texture and detail present in the new scan.

Running nearly 220 minutes over 13 chapters, the AVC encode arrives on a BD-50 in strong parameters. Jungle Queen’s encode nicely handles the wavering contrast and inconsistent grain structure without problem. It’s a first-rate effort.

Audio

The serial is heard in 2.0 Dolby Digital. Jungle Queen’s soundtrack is thin and limited. The 1945 recording reproduces dialogue well enough but becomes strained under more boisterous sonic moments. Jungle Queen’s monaural recording reveals the inherent limitations of low-budget filmmaking from the era.

Optional English SDH subtitles are included.

Extras

VCI offers no special features for Jungle Queen. The Blu-ray is coded for all regions. There is a play-all option for watching all 13 chapters.

Jungle Queen’s 13 Chapters:

– Invitation to Danger
– Jungle Sacrifice
– Flaming Mountain, The
– Wildcat Stampede
– Burning Jungle, The
– Danger Ship
– Trip-wire Murder
– Mortar Bomb, The
– Death Watch
– Execution Chamber
– Trail of Doom, The
– Dragged Under
– Secret of the Sword!, The

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Jungle Queen
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A hokey but entertaining serial from Hollywood’s Golden Age featuring Nazis colliding with the Allies in Africa.

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